The Association of Professionals riders (CPA) issued a statement today supporting the Tour de France leader Chris Froome "against unjustified allegations of doping".
"It's not fair to blame someone without evidence against him," said Gianni Bugno, president of the CPA. "We demand more respect for Chris and for all the riders. We are witnessing a daily attack against the dignity of the riders in a manner that can no longer be tolerated."
Bugno, himself a Grand Tour champion (1990 Giro d'Italia) and twice World Champion (1991-1992), had suffered his own share of scrutiny when it came to drugs. In 1994 he tested 30 times above the limit at the time for caffeine and served a reduced ban after he claimed to have only consumed coffee prior to the race. He also was part of a 1999 investigation when he served as a directeur sportif for the Mapei team, after police uncovered a package of amphetamines that was addressed to his family home. He was given a suspended six month prison sentence and fine in 2002.
The CPA statement went on to state that it "has always supported the importance of the fight against doping" but condemns "the fury of media and institutions which over the years has often led to the association cycling = doping."
Froome has come under attack by both the fans, who have taken to internet forums to guess the Sky rider's power values, values which his team principal David Brailsford refuses to publish, and by media who spent seven years reporting on the dominance of Lance Armstrong only for an avalanche of doping confessions to follow.
"Despite all the efforts that cycling face to combat this scourge and despite the professional riders are the most controlled athletes in the world, they are too often portrayed as dishonest. Unlike all the other disciplines only in cycling it’s quite normal to investigate and tarnish the image of athletes of the present and of the past," the statement read.
"Now we come to the paradox, with Froome, to publicly condemn an athlete without having any evidence against him. The CPA asks, for all these reasons, more attention and respect for all the riders, including the yellow jersey Chris Froome."